COVID-19. What immediately pops into your head as you mutter the term? It’s almost impossible to go anywhere on earth these days, and not hear someone speak of this deadly virus.
The unforeseen spectacle of events that have transpired over these past months have not only been devastating, but has become a new “normal” for the entire human race.
Productivity during a pandemic?
We are in the mist of critical and trying times, and bluntly put, there’s only two ways to go about the current mayhem - you could either live in constant fear and uncertainty, suffering from possible anxiety everyday. Or you can continue to live your life as safely and peacefully as you humanly know how to. I choose the latter.
If the second option I described resonates mostly with you, how then can you apply that positive mindset into your life as a writer?
What are the components of your writing routine? Are you still managing one? If not. Do not beat yourself up about not having or sticking to a routine! Doing this will suck you into an endless hole of writer self-sabotage! (More about that in another blog post!)
It’s one thing to live smack right in the middle of a pandemic, but couple that with the added stressors of trying to live a seemingly “ normal” lifestyle, while maintaining just enough sanity to get you by each day...well, it’s no wonder many succumb to anxiety and frustrations!
4 Ways To Just Keep Writing
Writing provides an escape, a world away from our very own, a safe place, a dream even. So how in the world can a writer that wants to write their hearts out, still maintain enough energy and mental space to actually write when they simply don’t feel like it?
Read on to learn four stress-free ways to keep the writing going when you just don’t want to.
A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit. - Richard Bach
1. Create A Realistic Writing Routine
Creating a realistic writing routine can sometimes be harder than it actually is, and that’s primarily because we make it hard on ourselves.
Oftentimes as writers, in our minds, we have super powers. We can do all the impossible writing things, even though we know these things are far from realistic, like reading a ridiculous amount of books in any given year. (Did you just glance over to that ever growing TBR pile? I see you. Don’t feel bad, I just did too.)
We want to do all the writing things, but the reality of doing all the writing things hits us hard in the face when we realize that WE CAN’T DO IT ALL! (Sorry for the CAPS)
If we can’t do it all, but we still want to remain #productive and #active in our writing journey, then what should we really be doing? The answer to that is to look at ourselves for who we truly are as writers.
Your availability, drive, goals, look at all these things and create a routine that fits your lifestyle.
When doing this, be fair and honest in building your writing routine. Resist the urge to embrace another writer’s routine as a guide or sound law for your own.
You may come across many writer’s along your journey that you respect and look up to. Some may even become a mentor to you, and that’s amazing!
Building healthy and friendly relationships with other writers can be extremely encouraging, however, you don’t want to get into the habit of basing another writer’s way of doing things into your own writing routine.
Maybe that other writer wakes up at 3am every day and writes for five hours before tackling his day. Can you do that? Is that fair to your schedule and everything else you have going on in your life? If not, why would you repeatedly torture yourself, trying to get out of bed at an hour that you know is unspeakable for you to even crack open one eyelid!
Or what about a writer friend you know that reads 967 books each year and draws inspiration from all the books she reads and can even write a whole entire draft in 30 days, every month! Sounds nice, however is this realistic for you?
Creatives, never fall into the temptation of adding things to your routine that are intimidating and discouraging. If you’re building a writing routine, include things that are not only attainable, but appealing to you as well.
Be sure that whatever you choose to incorporate into your writing routine motivates you to want to actually write.
Do you enjoy listening to music?
Perhaps you can include this somewhere in your routine. Why not create a playlist designated for your writing only, and listen to that playlist only when you write? Or even before you write?
Find little things that are fun and easy to do to help get you into the mood of writing.
I personally enjoy lighting scented candles and drinking coffee before and during any writing session. The sweet aromas from the candles soothe me at the start of each session and the coffee jolts me at the right times, just when I need an extra boost the most.
I want you to take a look at your current writing routine. Are there some changes that can be made? Some minor tweaks? Be honest with yourself, and don’t feel ashamed if you’ve incorporated some things that have been far fetched for you. Your writing journey is all about learning and making progress along the way!
What about if you don’t have a writing routine set? Would you like to create one? Be fair in your choices, and have fun as you’re coming up with ideas to include.
Your routine is for you alone and no one has to even set eyes on it, ever!
2. It’s Okay Not To Write Everyday
Contrary to what you’ve been told about writing every single day, the truth is...you ain’t gotta do it! That’s right, I said it (well, typed it...you know what I mean.)
Relax for a second and stop clutching your pearls, just allow me to explain my reasoning.
As mentioned earlier, every writer is not the same. Time, schedules and effort all differ for each writer. We all have different responsibilities, different tasks and different mental capability that will allow us to focus on our writing.
Some of us are parents, with full time jobs and other responsibilities like marital obligations, personal and spiritual goals (*raises one hand high in the air like I just don’t care*). Other writers are full-time students, with mounds of work to be completed within a certain time frame and need a good chunk of rented mental space to be able to focus. And other writers run full on businesses that require much of their energy and time.
Keeping all of this in mind, sometimes the act of writing may not happen on a daily basis. We may want it to, but our lives outside of writing dictate otherwise. And that’s okay.
One upside to not writing everyday is that it can allow us to recharge. We can come back to our writing with a fresh attitude and perspective, eager to attack whatever project we’re working on.
Don’t make yourself feel like you’re not a writer simply because you didn’t write three days this week, or last week. You’re a writer if you write, so skipping days, weeks or months doesn’t strip you of your writer badge.
3. When You Do Write, Protect Your Writing Time
You may not write everyday, but on the days you do, protect your writing time at all costs! Even if you’ve only scheduled 15 minutes for yourself, make sure you take your 15 minutes and get the writing done. (Unless of course an unforeseen circumstance occurs like an emergency or you run out of coffee! Lol)
Parents, my strong, tired and overworked parents get into the habit of telling the kiddies that your scheduled time belongs to you and you cannot be interrupted unless it's an absolute emergency. (How many of you just broke out in hysterical laughter? If you had a penny for every time you tried saying this to the kids right? I know.)
Listen, there is nothing wrong with leaving a healthy, able-bodied child (within reason of course!) to themselves, with something constructive to do, while you work. (for the younger ones, of course you may need to be close by!)
If you have smaller humans, then this may not be feasible for you and you may have to get creative with how you can schedule your writing sessions (try taking them while the kids are napping or feeding) Also, if there is another adult in the house that can pitch in to hold the kids down while you’re in session, this is the time to help them help you!
Another way to protect your writing time is to not allow yourself to get side-tracked by things that pull you out of your creativity.
Sometimes, it may take a while before you can jump right back into creative mode, so be mindful of all the things you have to tend to before, during and after every session.
If it’s something that doesn’t require your immediate attention, then hold off on that particular task until after your session.
Remember, your time as a writer is precious and for some of us, extremely limited. So use it wisely and to your benefit!
4. Celebrate The Small Wins
This is something that I’m a strong advocate for. You want to be content with completing a small task or goal, always.
These small successes can give us a natural high of happiness in finishing something. It drives us to want to move on to the next goal, and if we're meeting our goals, then we're pushing forward as active and productive writers.
This can surely carry us far along in our writing journey!
I believe myself that a good writer doesn't really need to be told anything except to keep at it. - Chinua Achebe
We have all been affected by this pandemic in one way or another, but that doesn’t mean your writing goals have to pause because of it.
Write when you can. Write when you feel in the mood. Write when you’re uncertain, write whenever you want to, just write!
No one can dictate your schedule, you’re in charge of that, and you don’t need to feel pressured if you're not living up to what your other writing buddies are doing.
Thank you so much for sticking with me until the end of this post!
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Just keep writing! ; )